The memorial for Laughlin that was found with the bust.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Gail King needs your help.
When the North Carolina resident and New England expatriate returned to the area this summer to help clean out the home of the recently deceased Jean Ann King, Gail found among her things a bust sculpted by Jean's daughter, Ruth Ellen King, who died in 2013.
With it was a newspaper clipping with a memorial for the sculpture's apparent subject, Keith W. Laughlin.
And that is where the trail goes cold.
The clipping is not an obituary, which would list survivors, but a poem that only references Laughlin's "Mom, Step Dad, Brother, Sisters, Nieces, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Friends." Laughlin's date of death is given as 2002; he was only 32 when he died.
It does not identify any of Laughlin's family members by name or even give a clue about his town of residence, or when the memorial was published. King is not sure whether the laminated news clipping is from The Berkshire Eagle or the now defunct North Adams Transcript.
She does know the bust meant something to her niece, Ruth Ellen, and she would like to see it end up in a good home, namely that of Laughlin's family.
"She did this [sculpture] when she was quite young," Gail King said. "She wasn't an artist, but I think she did it in school as a project. Ruth graduated from Hoosac Valley [High School in Cheshire]."
According to her February 2013 obituary on tributes.com, Ruth Ellen King, who died at age 35, was a member of Hoosac Valley's class of 1995 and worked at Big Y Supermarkets for 15 years.
"I went to Adams Town Hall and asked if there was a death certificate [for Laughlin]," Gail King said. "There wasn't. But he could have been from Cheshire or Adams or Pittsfield. … Then I stopped at a couple of places in Adams and asked if anyone knew the name.
"I went to the Adams Public Library and looked at the Hoosac Valley yearbooks for a stretch of five years around when he would have graduated, but he wasn't in there."
Gail King is hoping that by getting the word out about the bust, she will be able to connect with Laughlin's family members and give them something else to remember him by.
"I really don't want to throw it away," she said. "I figure someone must know this kid. If Ruth knew him, maybe one of her friends knew who he was."
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Williamstown Panel Looks at Context of Historic Monuments
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
A sign erected by the Williamstown Historical Commission to recognize the site of the 18th Century West Hoosac Fort.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town's newest committee Monday got down to the business of finding ways to talk about the truth of the Village Beautiful's founding.
The Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee discussed two historical markers and whether they do more to sanitize that history and marginalize Native Americans than they do to educate the public.
Lauren Stevens of the 1753 House Committee told the DIRE Committee that his group has discussed how to properly contextualize one of the highest profile structures in town, a replica of an 18th-century dwelling built in 1953 with period-specific techniques to help celebrate the town's centennial.
"Bilal [Ansari] was talking at the Friday afternoon Black Lives Matter rally, and he mentioned in a passing reference to the 1753 House that there were, indeed, people in this area before those being honored by the settlement in 1753," Stevens said.
The college's vice president for finance and administration told the board in a virtual meeting that the impact on the community is something that is discussed every day by the school as it prepares for the beginning of students' arrival on Aug. 24.
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The committee did not disclose a starting date for McCandless, who currently is the superintendent of the Pittsfield Public Schools. Pittsfield has voted to hold McCandless to the 90-day notice in his contract.
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Keeping with the members' desire to focus on evidence gathering as the nine-person committee gets up and running, all three of the initial groups are tasked with building up the knowledge base.
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